Myrtle Beach

Winter 2008 CSANews Issue 69  |  Posted date : Dec 23, 2008.Back to list

On our first drive to South Carolina a few years ago, my wife and I were welcomed by a sign which proudly announced that we had arrived at North Myrtle Beach, the "Home of Vanna White." At that time, we had been lured into watching "Wheel of Fortune" just to see what Vanna would be wearing next. Those were the days when each evening, she seemed to be modelling an outfit even more outrageous than the night before.

The Atlantic Ocean's shoreline turned out to be much lovelier than the letter-turning lady's garb. And consistent with miles of soft sand to play in and relax upon; the adjacent salty waters were warm and inviting, should the mood for a dip present itself. The plan was for us to stay over for a couple of days on our return to Canada, after spending the winter months in Florida, America's Sunshine State. And so we did, leaving for home with a better understanding as to why the communities are so popular with Canadians. (There are two communities: Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach, plus some interesting suburbs.)

For one thing, you can get there in a hurry. It's a very full day by car, but it is possible to drive from Ontario, for example, in about 12 hours without breaking the speed limits. It is also a fun family spot. There are all kinds of things to amuse the children, their parents and grandparents. There are games to play, rides to thrill the fair-going crowds and lots of places to dine and be entertained. For golfers, it is absolute nirvana. There are more than 100 courses waiting to challenge everyone from duffers to professionals; enough to lay claim to being the 'golf capital of the world'. And while my wife and I never got around to counting them, there are a good many miniature golf courses (sometimes called putt-putts) dotted throughout the region. Look for names such as Hawaiian Village, Pirate's Watch Adventure or Dragon's Lair Fantasy, among a dozen or so others.

To make your visit even more attractive, the Myrtle Beach region offers a special card that enables the holder to obtain discounts for shopping, two-for-one meals, discounts for local tours and water sports.

Souvenir shops are at every turn. You'll find the inevitable T-shirts of course, and any number of other items that catch the eye, but there are many up-scale shops as well. Ladies will find jewellery, fashions (as nice as, or better than Vanna's), shoes, gift ideas, even lingerie at Virginia's Secret. Malls such as Market Common and Broadway at the Beach have everything that you'd expect at a shopper's paradise.

It's 'come to the fair' year-round at Myrtle Beach. There is family fun galore waiting. Hop on an old-fashioned merry-go-round, get a little wet on a tubular water slide or view the Atlantic from a ferris wheel. Now open is Hard Rock Park, with six different areas that include a museum, live shows, thrilling roller-coaster rides and much more. Bumper cars and a go-cart track are available at an attraction aptly named "Family Kingdom." If you enjoy a hands-on animal experience, check out the Myrtle Beach Safari at Barefoot Landing. And how about those denizens of the deep: see them at Ripley's Aquarium and Pirates Exhibit. Let's not forget Dolly Parton. No, she is not from South Carolina. She's a Tennessee girl who has a fun restaurant in Myrtle Beach called Dixie Stampede, with miniature horse racing, plus a stable of 32 regular horses.

Gaming is available at Little River. If this pastime is of interest, check out the casino cruises that sail from this old fishing port adjacent to North Myrtle Beach.

Food, Glorious Food. That song from Oliver! sets the mind to racing. What shall it be this evening? Well, as you can expect, Myrtle Beach has a plethora of dining establishments ranging from all of the fast-food operations through family diners and a Calabash Buffet, to five-star gourmet. The area offers the world in menu form. Seafood is the big favourite. After all, the Grand Strand runs for several kilometres along the Atlantic seacoast. Look for lobster, soft-shell crab and (a personal favourite) she-crab soup. Remember, this is the south, so expect to find grits, okra or black-eyed peas served with your orders. Look for a spot that features 'Low-country' cuisine.

The Grand Strand is the place for theatre. And what choices there are! Voted high in popularity is the Carolina Opry, a variety show with music and comedy. Legends in Concert has professional tribute artists doing top-notch versions of past and present celebrities. Good Vibrations at the Myrtle Beach Theatre recalls hits of the '60s, '70s and '80s. Then there is the Bowery, the venue that featured "Alabama" in its earliest days, the band that went on to worldwide acclaim. A showplace, Alabama Theatre located on Barefoot Landing is now getting ready to present the 2009 version of its hit presentation "One – The Show".

Vanna White has always been easy on the eye, and so has that popular spot on the Atlantic coast where she first saw the light of day. Vanna's wardrobe has much improved since Wheel of Fortune went on the air more than 25 years ago. You may not get a chance to see Vanna in person, but the beaches and golf venues provide good consolation. And a good feed on Low-country food will leave you truly sated and completely satisfied.

Sidebar

Lodging information on the web:

www.visitmyrtlebeach.com
or call toll-free for a visitor's guide: 1-888-886-9232

Myrtle Beach VIP Card:

1-888-227-4847
www.myrtlebeachvipcard.com

Ripley's Aquarium:

1-800-734-8888
www.ripleysaquarium.com

Barefoot Landing:

1-800-272-2320
www.barefootlanding.com

Carolina Opry:

1-800-843-6779
www.thecarolinaopry.com

Alabama Theatre:

1-800-342-2262
www.alabama-theatre.com

Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede:

1-800-433-4401
www.dixiestampede.com/myrtlebeach.php

Legends in Concert:

1-800-960-7469
www.legendsinconcertsc.com